41st Anniversary Special: Blast from the past

A few choice selections from our archives

33 YEARS AGO (OCTOBER 5, 1974)

Dianne Feinstein takes off her gloves

By Katy Butler

White gloves still haunt Dianne Feinstein's political life. She has been wearing them ever since she first went to dancing class, and fellow politicians have accused her of refusing to take them off for politics. Her old political allies bring up the image again and again: those little white gloves seem to crystallize their irritation with her Pacific Heights femininity, the world of the Junior League, the chauffeur and the Goody Two Shoes approach to politics. In 1971 during her disastrous campaign for Mayor, she did her best to reach beyond her background. She promised a Hunters Point crowd she'd never shuck or jive. But she was still wearing those little white gloves.

The white gloves are off now. Feinstein learned from her 1971 defeat and she doesn't want to lose this time around. She is jostling with state senators Milton Marks and George Moscone for first place at the starting gate in next year's Mayor's race, and she is no longer a political dilettante operating on intuition and integrity.

The new Dianne Feinstein is a canny political animal, assiduously cultivating the "homeowner vote" in the foggy reaches of the Avenues while nursing along her original liberal constituency. "She's dropped the Goody Two Shoes act and she's willing to play hardball politics," one of her fellow supervisors says admiringly. "She's moving toward the center and she's getting very good advice."

"How can you be for the vice squad, for police helicopters, against nude shows and for gay rights?" asks Harvey Milk, a gay former candidate for supervisor. "It doesn't add up."

31 YEARS AGO (OCTOBER 8, 1976)

Staggering with Bukowski

By William Graham

The beer, the day, whatever the reason, [poet Charles] Bukowski is not reading well — with little enthusiasm, little animation, little inflection in his voice, save the long drawl on certain words. He rarely looks up from his script while reading, as if he hasn't seen the poems before. Hunched over, his glasses reflect the two spotlights and act as mirrors, blocking the audience from his eyes. At his best he is poetical, distant. At his worst, he is an old man reading the news. And finally the warning, "This is going to be my next-to-last poem." A few say "No, no." Bukowski asks, "Are there any questions?" Again, mixed shoutings answer, a few voices mimic animals, and far from the rear, the high nasal voice says "Bullshit". Bukowski replies, "Lay off that cheeeeeep, rot-gut wine or you're not going to live a weeeeeeek. If the wine doesn't get youuuuuuu, I might." The crowd likes this. Shifting gears, the poet says, "Any young girls want my phone number — try Joe Wolberg." Several replies follow, many sound dubious, and the poet says, "Okay, Babe-A."

31 YEARS AGO (OCTOBER 8, 1976)

EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES. By Tom Robbins. Houghton-Mifflin, $4.95.

Reviewed by Don McClelland

Tragedy ensues but is softened by the cosmic good humor that shines throughout the book. For this world and its languages, Robbins shows an infectious love that is constantly leading him into literary excesses guaranteed to get him hanged in more proper circles. Didactic, discursive, anthropomorphic, loaded with enough outrageous similes to send a basketful to each poet in the American Academy, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues operates on the refreshing premise that the whole world is alive. This book will make you laugh out loud in the elevator. This book should have champagne and tears spilled on it. This book is Cervantes born again.